THE ambulance trust serving Portsmouth and surrounding areas admitted delays at Queen Alexandra Hospital are ‘frustrating’ but said: ‘We are all in this together.’
South Central Ambulance Service (Scas) spoke about the Cosham hospital at its board of directors meeting on Thursday.
The board had received a report listing delays at QA’s emergency department as a main risk to the success of its operations. The meeting also heard handover delays had seen Scas lose 1,296 hours over the Christmas period – its highest ever.
Speaking after the meeting Professor Helen Young, Scas’ director of patient care and service transformation, said: ‘The Christmas and new year period was horrendously busy for everyone.
‘Every NHS organisation is under extreme pressure but particularly QA Hospital.
‘This isn’t an individual problem though, and it isn’t about blaming one trust.
‘But if patients have waited for us to get to them or are waiting in ambulances then we have to investigate that and see where the problems are and if the patient has come to harm.
‘It is about us being honest about what we are facing.
‘Our frontline crews do get frustrated when they are caught up in delays because not only do they have to think about their current patient but anyone else in need of an ambulance that is calling through at any given time.’
Prof Young said the board had a ‘robust discussion’ on the south part of their patch and plans recently implemented to help organisations work together to fix problems.
Those plans include the Portsmouth and South Eastern Hampshire Improvement Plan which is looking to transform key areas of healthcare including the urgent and emergency care.
Prof Young added: ‘During the meeting we had quite a robust discussion on the south’s ability to respond, particularly to acute, rising in demand. If there are little peaks most trusts manage but we really struggle in the south when there’s unexpected or high demand peaks.
‘We spoke about ways we can support QA Hospital and how everyone can come together; that is the answer to solving these issues.’
Mark Cubbon, chief executive of QA Hospital, agreed joined-up working was key.
He said: ‘As with many hospitals, over the festive period our emergency department was under significant pressure. Unfortunately this meant some patients did experience delays and we would like to apologise.
‘We are working closely with our colleagues across the health and social care system to create more joined up services which will result in a better service for patients and a more efficient system.’